New racing videogames set to rev up sales

Wed Mar 10, 2010 11:42pm EST
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By John Gaudiosi

LIVERPOOL, England (Reuters) - Blatant disregard for oncoming traffic and speed limits will get you into serious trouble on the road, but drivers seeking similar thrills can indulge in a fleet of new racing video games due out soon.

Sony Computer Entertainment's (Sony) "Gran Turismo 5" from Polyphony Digital, Activision Blizzard's "Blur" and Disney Interactive Studios' "Split/Second" are heading to stores from game-makers around the globe, boosting a genre that inevitably has players coming back for more.

John Taylor, videogame analyst, Arcadia Research, said that in 2004 racing games accounted for approximately 9 percent of U.S. videogame sales, a figure which has now more than doubled.

He said the racing genre still has strong franchises such as Nintendo's "Mario Kart Wii," Microsoft's "FORZA Motorsport" and Sony's "Gran Turismo," with this year's offerings set to add to a niche that, according to analyst Anita Frazier, netted sales worth $548 million in 2009.

"Today, more than 20 percent of U.S. gamers play action or sports racing games with the demographics skewing to younger males," said Michael Cai, vice president of research at media and technology research firm Interpret.

Liverpool-based game studio Bizarre Creations has made the jump to action racing with "Blur." The studio's last racing franchise, Microsoft's "Project Gotham Racing," has sold over 7 million copies on Xbox 360, including 2.9 million units in the United States, according to The NPD Group.

"After working on so many simulation racing titles we really wanted to bring the fun back to racing," said Ged Talbott, lead designer on Blur at Bizarre Creations.

"To do that, we've combined real-world vehicles with accurate physics and handling with arcade-style power-ups like mines and nitro boosts on accurately detailed tracks like the Los Angeles docks and downtown Tokyo."   Continued...

<p>Sony Computer Entertainment America President and CEO Jack Tretton watches video from the new "Gran Turismo 5" game for the PS3, at the Sony E3 2009 media briefing in Los Angeles in this June 2, 2009 fo;e [jptp. REUTERS/Fred Prouser</p>